Ghost Writer


Silvery coins of moonlight shone through the Spanish moss like tinsel from the Cyprus trees.  The gurgling of the fetid swamp could have easily been attributable to natural fermentation of natural gases.  This, however, was not the case.

His makeshift craft fell apart like so many unrealized dreams.  Charlie Barker had underestimated the load and overestimated the capacity of his raft.  All had been lost.

The reanimated skeleton had then focused on trudging through the sludge to find a shoreline.  Being devoid of flesh and fat, his buoyancy was nil.  His advantage, of course, was not needing to refill lung sacks incessantly.

The gurgling increased, heralding the arrival of the skeleton as he broke through the muddy surface.  A raven cawed angrily as it was disturbed from its roost.  The sludge held thick on the bones of his fingers as it blindly searched for something to grasp.

Then, something grabbed it.  Something leathery and nearly as bony as he.  A withered old hand yanked him up and onto the banks.

“Be ye dead or live, make no matter.  My land yer on,” said an old woman.

Charlie cleaned out his eye sockets to get a better look.  A Creole Sòsyè stood before him, hunched over from age.  She wore a potato sack dress, spindly legs sticking out resembling those of a chicken.

“Obviously, you’re a woman of taste,” Char said, admiring the surroundings.

“Trespasser! Silver-tongued devil,” the old witch admonished.

“I meant no transgression, ma’am.  Or, rather, how shall I address you?”

“I be Adélaïde Rieux.  I am no afraid of anything come out of this swamp,” she cursed.

Charlie bowed respectfully.  “I can see that, Madame Rieux.  Perhaps we could arrange some kind of payment.  A passage through your swamp.  Maybe even a little time by a warm fire?”

The sòsyè eyed him over.  “T’ain’t got no pockets.  What can ye offer?”

“I have collected many stories through my travels,” Charlie tempted.

“Got enough of them.”

“What then?”

The old witch smiled a toothless grin.  “I could use a bone for a spell I be workin’ on.”

Charlie nodded.  He had over a couple hundred.  He should be able to spare one little bone.




Deep within a southeastern mire
Drifts a makeshift raft truding by
Its skeletal host doesn’t tire
Of finding new stories to try

A trove of tales are in the bog
At least that’s what locals proclaim
So across the swamp in the fog
Floats the ghost in search of his game

Through cyprus and moss, south winds blow
Echoing dark tales of the lost
Three are told at a time to show
How all choices come with a cost

Then the raft is torn asunder
As twine fails and logs fall away
Folklore lost; down sinks the plunder
Misjudged how much stories might weigh


The ghoul had been satiated, having stopped off at a local graveyard for a bite.  The glossy black 1963 Ford Galaxie 500XL was gassed up.  The car was made for the open road.

Thornton Sharpe had snatched it up for a steal at an estate sale for a dearly departed human.  He had picked up the car and then later had dug up its owner for a reunion of sorts.  Actually, it was more like a snack for the road for Thornton. Both car and former driver were delicious.

Since then, the ghoul had covered thousands of miles.  Along the way, he had amassed quite a few stories, as well.  Thornton hadn’t planned on stopping along the way.  At least, not until he got hungry again.  Fate had other plans.

With thumb outstretched, a skeletal hitch-hiker stood beside the road.  Thornton had never seen a living skeleton before.  Maybe he could do with some company for a few hundred miles.  And this passenger wouldn’t tempt his appetite as there was no flesh on the bones.

Thornton pulled the midnight black convertible over.  Without exchanging a word, the skeleton opened the door and climbed in shotgun.  Thornton smiled his finely pointed teeth at the thing.

“Where you headed, mac?” Thornton asked.

“Where the road leads,” the skeleton replied.

Thornton shook his head and took his foot off the brake.  He punched the gas pedal and the car skidded slightly until the tires caught enough traction.  “My name is Thornton Sharpe.”

“Barker,” commented the skeleton, “Charlie Barker.”

“Ahh, Mr. Barker, I hope you aren’t averse to riding with a ghoul,” Thornton stated.

The skeleton replied, “Please.  Charlie will do fine.  No, Mr. Sharpe.  I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”

“Thornton, as long as we are on a first name basis.  That’s good to hear.  I may need to stop in a few miles for a snack.  I wouldn’t want to inadvertently offend you with my dietary needs.”

“Not at all, not at all, my good fellow,” Charlie noted.

“So, what does a skeleton do, exactly?”

“I collect things.”

Thornton said, “As do I.  Like what?”

“Tell me: do you like scary stories?” Charlie asked.




Across wide expanse of blacktop
Bridged by time, mechanics, and fuel
Thunderous tires rumble non stop
Car driven by hideous ghoul

The vehicle offers a ride
To a creepy wandering soul
The voyage resumes once inside
Without destination or goal

Far from a radio station
Time is passed with frightening tales
One for each state of the nation
As they speed through numerous trails

The convertible haunts the road
The horrific passengers ride
With tales that frighten and forebode
Sanity falls by the wayside